Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Kinda of Robin Hoodish"

According to a report at the Winston-Salem Journal, Judge Denise Hartsfield characterizes her practice of fixing tickets for friends and family as "kinda of Robin Hoodish."  In otherwords, unethical.  What follows is an excerpt from Michael Hewlett's story:

"District Judge Denise Hartsfield fixed traffic tickets for friends, acquaintances, members of her church and others, then lied to the State Bureau of Investigation about it, the state judicial commission alleges in a statement of charges. She told an SBI agent that her actions do appear to be "kinda Robin Hoodish," according to the statement by the N.C. Judicial Standards Commission.

'Respondent (Hartsfield) engaged in a continuing pattern of conduct in which she entered beneficial judgments for certain defendants,' said the statement, which cited 22 cases.

The commission filed the charges March 1 after an investigation by the SBI. The commission will hold a hearing in the next few months. If it finds ethical violations, it will recommend discipline to the N.C. Supreme Court. The court could censure Hartsfield, suspend her or remove her from office."
The ABAJournal linked to this story first.

I can empathise with a Judge attempting to do real world justice, but he lying to the State Bureau of Investigation is going to cost her some licensure issues if not outright loss of license or suspension.  There's a judge in OurTown who was convicted in federal court of multiple counts of lying to the FBI about a favor she did for a politician that in and of itself was not illegal and at worst was simply unethical.  In covering up her unethical act she ruined her reputation, lost her law license and is looking at approximately 7 years in the federal penitentiary.   

Judge: "He's Suffered Enough . . .," Probation for Violent Cop

Mandarino, right, his victim Ronald Bell, left
At the link you can watch dashboard camera video of the violent ass-kicking meted out by a suburban Chicago-area cop convicted of aggravated assault and official misconduct.  Warning:  this is a vicious unprovoked crime committed against an unarmed citizen. 

Former Streamwood, Illinois police officer James Mandarino, 42, faced up to 5 years in prison but, His Honor,Cook County Judge Thomas P. Fecarotta said incarceration would not be appropriate.

“Jail time would be more about revenge and less about justice,” Judge Fecarotta said.  Nice reasoning.

Mr. Bell's crime, um a traffic stop. 

At this link, The Chicago Sun-Times account of the sentencing.

What's the Matter Wetback, Can't Take a Little Ass-Kicking?

Jamie Ross at the Courthouse News Service reports on Refugio Rodriguez's lawsuit against the Phoenix cops and the Maricopa authorities: 

"After T[ASERING], kicking and hitting a man in the head with flashlights while calling him a 'wetback,' Phoenix police officers falsely accused him of assaulting them and running away, but the man can't fight or run at all because he is paralyzed on one side of his body from childhood polio, he says in a civil rights complaint.

Refugio Rodriquez sued the city, Maricopa County, Maricopa County Correctional Health Services and the three Phoenix police officers he says assaulted him in the parking lot of a church.  Rodriquez, whom the officers accused of aggravated assault against a police officer after they Tasered, kicked and hit beat him with police-issued flashlights, says he could not have assaulted the officers or run because the left side of his body is paralyzed from polio.

Rodriquez the three officers - Tedesco, Mills and Neidenbach - approached him outside of a church on May 27, 2010.

They told him 'you better not run you (expletive) wetback' and then slammed him onto the concrete driveway 'in a manner which obviously exceeded the minimal amount of force necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose and continued to brutally assault plaintiff Refugio in the driveway,' according to the complaint in Maricopa County Court.

After they needlessly Tasered him, they handcuffed him and continued to kick and hit him in the head 'with their police-issued long flashlight,' the complaint states.  The officers stopped beating him after his wife, Josephine, and his two children 'screamed at and pled with the defendant officers to stop the beating,' according to the complaint. The officers told the wife and kids to 'stay across the street or that they would be 'in trouble.'

Rodriquez, who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 140 lbs., says the officers did not let his family see him after they beat him, 'to cover up Refugio's bruises, scrapes and severe swelling of the head.'  The officers told his wife and children 'that there was nothing wrong with Refugio and that he was 'the same as when he left home awhile ago,' the complaint states.

But at the Maryvale police station, one of his assailants asked him, 'What's the matter, you can't take an ass-whipping?'  Rodriquez [reports.]

Rodriquez says the officers lied in their police report: that they wrote that he 'ran from the officers when they first came into contact ... which is totally impossible because plaintiff cannot run due to the paralysis on the whole left side of his body since his birth with polio.' [ . . . ]

Rodriquez says he was taken from the Maryvale police precinct to the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, where the intake nurse told him 'he was going to be transported to the nearest hospital emergency room via an ambulance because of the severity of his injuries.'

But a few minutes later the intake nurse told him that 'if she sent him to the hospital emergency, she was told she would lose her job.'  After Rodriquez was released on bail, his wife took him to St. Joseph's Hospital, where the emergency doctor told him that 'he could have died because a blood clot near his brain was beginning to develop,' the [lawsuit claims.]"
All things being even, maybe we would automatically think, "there are two-sides to every story;" but, this is Phoenix, Arizona.  Maricopa County.  The Bad Lawyer's sure the AZ Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer can right this wetback lawsuit with a stroke of the pen.

Lose a Lawsuit to an Illegal, No Problem--AZ Legislature and Governor Will Fix It for You

We are a nation of laws, or so we are told throughout our primary schooling.  This rule of law-thing is especially true in Arizona.  In a recent case a few patriots lost a lawsuit for abusing some wetbacks, and by-God--the AZ legislature and Governor Jan Brewer went right out and enacted a new law letting the patriots off the hook, retoractively.  The rule of law is one hell of good idea.  Here's reporter Alia Beard Rau's account from AZCentral.com:

As an Arizona rancher faced a court order earlier this year to pay $87,000 to illegal immigrants he caught on his land, the Legislature set out to right what many considered a wrong.  The Legislature passed a law to make retroactive to 2004 a 2006 referendum banning courts from awarding punitive damages to illegal immigrants. The rancher, Roger Barnett, had lost a civil lawsuit alleging that he held the immigrants at gunpoint in the 2004 incident, assaulted them and caused emotional distress. But opponents of the law say it's unconstitutional. They say the Legislature lacks authority to overturn court decisions and that lawmakers can't pass a law to benefit only one person.

'It makes a mockery of the separation of powers,' said Jaime Farrant, policy director for the immigrant-rights group Border Action Network.

The first test of the law's constitutionality could come as early as Tuesday. A Cochise County judge will decide how to proceed with a request from a different rancher who says a judgment against him in a similar civil lawsuit should be overturned.

Barnett case

In March 2004, Barnett apprehended a group of illegal immigrants on his ranch and turned them over to law enforcement. The immigrants alleged that Barnett held them at gunpoint and kicked one of the women. Barnett, who claimed to have apprehended thousands of illegal immigrants crossing through his ranch, disputed the allegations.

Roger Barnett
A year later, a Texas-based civil-rights organization, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, filed a civil lawsuit against Barnett on behalf of the immigrants and sought $32 million in damages.

Barnett was never criminally charged in the case.

The case garnered national attention and outraged many in the Legislature. Lawmakers in 2006 passed a measure asking voters to change the state Constitution to forbid Arizona courts from awarding punitive damages to illegal immigrants. Prop. 102 passed with 74 percent approval.
But lawmakers realized later that the measure was too late to help Barnett because it wasn't retroactive.
In 2009, a federal court jury found that Barnett didn't violate the civil rights of the immigrants but ordered him to pay $77,000 to the victims for the claims of assault and causing emotional distress.
Barnett appealed. This February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the lower-court ruling. With interest the amount came to about $87,000.

Less than a week later, Republican lawmakers tacked an amendment onto an unrelated bill that would put the constitutional restriction created under Proposition 102 into state statute and make that state statute retroactive to Jan. 1, 2004.
It's illegal for the Legislature to change a voter-approved measure without getting permission from voters. Creating the state statute and changing it instead of the voter-approved constitutional provision may get the Legislature around that problem. It's not uncommon for the Legislature to repeat things in the state Constitution in state statute.

Legislative action

During committee hearing on House Bill 2191 [Legislator, Rep. Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, said the issue dated back to Mr. Barnett's case and he added that Prop. 102 was intended to help Barnett.]
'It would have been a lot easier if the Legislature had been smarter at that time and made the date retroactive,' Weiers said during committee hearings.  'When (Prop. 102) was introduced, it was for the intent of that exact incident, nothing more and nothing less. This is an attempt to right a wrong.'
Farrant of Border Action Network was the only one to testify against the bill. He said the bill was unconstitutional for at least two reasons: It was intended to benefit a single person, and it sought to change a voter-approved measure.  He said he also was concerned about the precedent the new law sets.

'This person was accused in civil court of assaulting over 16 immigrants, and the court determined he assaulted them and sentenced him to pay,' Farrant said.  'And now we're going to pass a law to help him?'

Weiers said during committee hearings that he had vetted the bill with several attorneys and that they all determined it to be constitutional because it changes the new statute and not the voter-approved constitutional provision.  'I've been assured by attorneys that by doing it this way, it is extremely constitutional,' he said. As for helping a single person, Weiers said during committee, it's not the first time the Legislature has done so.

In 2009, the Legislature passed a measure that helped Harold Fish, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2004 shooting of a hiker near Payson. The measure required a 2006 change in self-defense law, made amid Fish's trial, to be applied retroactively. The change shifted the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecution, and the retroactive date allowed it to apply to Fish.Based on the new law, Fish was released from prison and not retried.

House Rules attorney Tim Fleming in February deemed HB 2191 constitutional, though he admitted at the time that he didn't understand why it was retroactive and wasn't sure how effective it would be at reversing a judgment. [ed. Don't worry, these AZ legislators are genuises.]

'I haven't done a lot of research on it,' he told the House Rules Committee, which is charged with evaluating the constitutionality of proposed legislation. [ed. uh, hus.]

Although the debate over the law focused on the Barnett case, another Arizona rancher believes the new law will help him as well.

In 2003, Arizona rancher Casey Nethercott and several other members of a volunteer border-patrol group called Ranch Rescue stopped two illegal immigrants on a ranch they were patrolling in Texas. The immigrants alleged that Nethercott threatened them and pistol-whipped a male immigrant in the head. Nethercott was criminally charged with aggravated assault, unlawful restraint and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He was ultimately convicted of the unlawful possession charge and sentenced to serve several years in a Texas prison.A year after the incident, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil lawsuit against Nethercott and several of the other men on behalf of the immigrants. The Texas state court in 2005 issued a civil judgment of $850,000 against Nethercott. A Cochise County judge later signed over Nethercott's ranch to the immigrants to cover some of the judgment.

The ranch was divided up and sold.

Nethercott called the passage of HB 2191 an 'absolute victory.  I hope everybody in America knows that they stole my home,' Nethercott said.  'Now, nobody else can go through this.' [ . . . ]

Emboldened by the new law, Nethercott has filed a motion in Cochise County Superior Court to vacate the judgment against him. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning in Bisbee.

Mary Bauer of the Southern Poverty Law Center is the lead attorney on the case. She said she is looking forward to trying the matter in the courts. She said she doesn't believe it is constitutional for a state Legislature to overturn a court ruling.

'The Constitution prohibits things called bills of attainder aimed at particular individuals or individual cases like this," she said. "And the Legislature can't come in and undo something that a court has done.' [ed. Oh really, shows what Ms. Bauerr knows about AZ!]

Bauer said the property has long since been sold, so even if Nethercott did win his argument, he won't get his ranch back.

Nethercott, who is representing himself, said he would not try to take the ranch from its new owners. He wants money, he said, and he believes the new state law will help him get it. He plans to ask for $10 million in punitive damages against the Southern Poverty Law Center. 'It's law now,' he said. 'You have to go by it.'"
Gotta love Nethercott, a real man of the law!  Er, retroactive law.

Just in case it slips your mind, the United State Constitution, Article I, Sections 9 & 10 prohibit enactment of ex post facto (retroactive laws) by both the state and federal governments.  Apparently this slipped the notice of the Arizona legislature and Governor Jan Brewer.   

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

There are families and friends among us who have lost family and friends in American military actions throughout the globe over many decades.  Whether we agree with those military endeavors or not, we certainly ought not to forget the individual sacrifice and losses. 

Enjoy the day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

In Oregon, the Right of a Victim to Be Present at Sentencing Voids Sentencing When the Victim Is Not Present in Court

An interesting decision from Oregon Supreme Court is reported by one of my fav court/law journalists, Aimee Green at the Oregonian.  In her report at the Oregonian, Friday evening,  Aimee reportst on the criminal sentencing voided because the victim's right to be present at the sentencing was ignored by the sentencing judge.   This is from Aimee's article:

"The ruling offers a stern reminder to judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys that they can’t resolve criminal cases while victims are left in the dark — if victims have told prosecutors they want to be kept up to date on the process. The ruling affects victims of all types of crime — including rapes, assaults, burglaries, car prowls and identity thefts.

'It is a significant victory for victims of crime here in Oregon to make sure their voices are heard,' said Meg Garvin, executive director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute in Portland and a clinical professor at Lewis & Clark Law School.

Garvin said the decision also is gaining national attention because the justices clearly stated what should happen once the victim’s right has been violated.

The right to be told of critical criminal proceedings — and to speak, if victims wish — was guaranteed by a 1999 voter-approved amendment to the Oregon Constitution. Voters clarified a remedy if those rights are violated in 2008, and lawmakers wrote that into state statute in 2009. The high court’s ruling is its first on this issue.

Specifically in the Beaverton case, Ivey Wayne Barrett was charged with stalking his estranged wife, Linda Barrett, on Jan. 30, two days before she filed for divorce. She told a victim advocate in the Washington County District Attorney’s Office that she wanted to be notified in advance of important hearings in the case.

She was given paperwork to fill out, and told to return it by March 2. In the meantime, the advocate told Linda Barrett that there was a hearing Feb. 28, but she didn’t need to be present.

Ivey Barrett, 45, wasn’t expected to plea or be sentenced at the hearing. But because of negotiations leading up to the hearing, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor stalking and was sentenced to two years of probation. He also was sentenced to 60 days in jail for violating a restraining order. On top of that, Washington County Circuit Judge Rick Knapp sentenced Barrett to anger management counseling, a drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment if necessary, to stay away from bars, to submit to polygraph tests and to possess no weapons.

After finding out her estranged husband had been sentenced, Linda Barrett asked the court — through Janine Robbin, an attorney with the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center — to throw out Ivey Barrett’s sentence and re-sentence him in her presence.
The judge declined, saying he didn’t see that as an option under the state constitution or state laws.

The high court disagreed. It vacated Ivey Barrett’s sentence, and sent the case back to the lower court for re-sentencing. It’s unclear when that will take place because Barrett hasn’t been following the terms of his probation and has a warrant out for his arrest.

Robben said Linda Barrett plans to attend the hearing, and to speak.

Robben remarked at how times have changed since she worked as a prosecutor starting in 1980, when there was no obligation to call victims before sentencing hearings — or tell victims if defendants were already locked away in the state penitentiary."
I'm interested in what the CDL community thinks of this Oregon high court decision and of the rights recognized by Oregon and other states effecting victim impact statements.

Recently, I reported on some outrageous PSI materials leaked to the press in the Elizabeth Smart case.  Miss Smart spoke movingly at the sentencing of her perpetrator and I think those of us empathizing with her were cheered by her courage and eloquence.

Friday, May 27, 2011

You Made the Wrong Decision, B*tch!

This item properly belongs under the rubric, annals of incredibly stoopid criminals, but will skip the niceties.  An Anchorage, Alaska area-man leaves court last Wednesday after being convicted of misdemeanor theft of a GPS unit gets caught up in traffic in proximity to a female juror who participated in his court case and says something incredibly brain-dead.  This is reporter Rosemary Sinohara's account from the ADN:

"A 29-year-old man had just left court Wednesday after having been convicted by a jury of minor theft when he saw a woman juror in the vehicle behind him in traffic and started yelling at her, Anchorage police say.  Now Jeremiah John Paskewitz faces much bigger trouble. He was charged Thursday with threatening a juror with intent to retaliate against her, a felony that could get up to five years in jail plus fines [ . . . ]

Paskewitz had been convicted in the theft of a GPS unit reported to be worth $228, and of $100 cash. The theft charges were misdemeanors.

The juror, whose name is being withheld by the [Anchorage] Daily News at the request of prosecutors, told police that after the theft trial ended, she unknowingly pulled out of the Hotel Captain Cook parking garage into traffic at Fifth Avenue and L Street behind Paskewitz's Lincoln.
He noticed her, leaned out his window and yelled threats at her over and over, according to a written police statement.   Charging documents say she told police that he yelled, 'You're going to get what's f-----g coming to you, ...You made the wrong decision, b---h.'
The juror said she was able to get behind a police car, but he continued to try to make eye contact with her and shake his head and laugh. She told police she became afraid of him."
Really, who needs this sort of grief after rendering public service as a juror?

Don't talk to the jurors.  Got that?

Thous Shall Not Steal from the Taxpayer: Kentucky Taxpayers Pony-Up the Big Bucks for Biblical Principles

Michael Stevens who publishes the invaluable clearinghouse-blawg Kentucky Law Review reports that Kentucky taxpayers are increasingly finding themselves on the hook for the ACLU's attorney fees.  This is because local politicos are addicted to pandering over the Ten Commandments, thereby losing Separation of Church and State lawsuits brought by the ACLU.  This is from Michael's post, check the quote:

"Several Kentucky counties have continued to litigate their right to post the Ten Commandments on the walls of government buildings. They continue to lose in the courts, and now the bills for courts costs and attorney fees being awarded to the ACLU are coming home to roost.

[In mid-May] U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman awarded an additional $23,366 in attorney fees and costs to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky for its work in challenging the displays, which were ruled unconstitutional.

Pulaski and McCreary counties now owe the ACLU a total of $456,881, nearly all of it for attorney fees. That figure doesn’t include mounting interest.  It’s not clear how the two counties would pay the bill[.]
The judgment is not covered under McCreary County’s insurance policy, and the relatively poor county — hard-pressed to provide services as it is — has nothing extra in the budget this fiscal year or next to pay the bill[.]

[County official] Maxey said 'We don’t have no $250,000 that we want to pay them with,”'referring to the ACLU.

The counties owe the ACLU the money because the civil-rights organization won the court case challenging the counties’ decision to post copies of the Ten Commandments."
Here, you have poor counties spending the taxpayers' dime to defend consitutionally indefensible lawsuits necessitated by pandering politicians.  Good work.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Error Message: California Computer Errors Release 1000 Violent Offenders

The Coming California Apocalypse

The sound and the fury in the wake of the Supremes decision in Brown v. Plata on California Prison overcrowding was probably provoked by 'Nino's "judicial travesty" language which went on to warn of the coming apocalypse of bad-things when hordes of violent criminals are freed to roam the streets and do untold horrors.  It's actually kind of comforting to know that contrary to the belief that a single Supreme Court decision will unleash these dangerous offenders, the State of California accomplishes this nightmare the old fashioned way: computer error.  That's right, this is Jack Dolan's article for the LA Times:

"Computer errors prompted California prison officials to mistakenly release an estimated 450 inmates with "a high risk for violence" as unsupervised parolees in a program meant to ease overcrowding, according to the state's inspector general.  More than 1,000 additional prisoners presenting a high risk of committing drug crimes, property crimes and other offenses were also let out, officials said.

No attempt was made to return any of the offenders to state lockups or place them on supervised parole, said inspector general spokeswoman Renee Hansen.  All of the prisoners were placed on 'non-revocable parole,' whose participants are not required to report to parole officers and can be sent back to prison only if caught committing a crime. The program was started in January 2010 for inmates judged to be at very low risk of reoffending, leaving parole agents free to focus on supervising higher-risk parolees.

The revelations come two days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California's prisons are dangerously overcrowded and upheld an earlier order that state officials find a way to reduce the 143,335-inmate population by roughly 33,000. The state has two years to comply."
Good job, California! 

The taxpayers have so much to be grateful for when they think about their public employees.  This is after all the same state that has Silicon Valley, right? 

A Little Prick--That's a Lawsuit

The Orlando Sentinel's Rene Stutzman is reporting on an eye-opening lawsuit filed by an area pri...man against the Winn-Dixie Supermarkets and a flower importer over his little prick....-ed thumb.  The story makes me laugh because in language intended to massage up the facts, describes his "injuries" as disfiguring.  The plaintiff also suggests that anti-bacterial water should be used on these dangerous flowers.  Here's Rene's report:

"A 41-year-old [Florida] man is suing Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., saying it and a grower should pay him $15,000 because when he bought roses at a Lake Mary Winn-Dixie three months ago, a thorn pricked his hand.  The suit, filed Monday, accuses Winn-Dixie and Passion Growers LLC, a Miami flower importer, of negligence.

Charles B. Imwalle, a fishing guide, asks for compensatory and special damages, alleging that he suffered pain, disfigurement, medical bills and lost wages.  He would not say Wednesday why he is asking for so much money. He referred questions to his attorney, Paul M. Thompson of Altamonte Springs, but Thompson would not comment.  According to the suit, the defendants should have stripped thorns from the flowers, wrapped the stems more carefully and used an anti-bacterial solution in its display buckets.

Sam Ferrara, founder of Passion Growers, said Imwalle got an infection and blamed the roses, but Ferrara insisted the flowers, which come from Colombia, are sterilized.  'We've been doing this 20 years,' Ferrara said. 'We've never, never had anything like this where anyone has gotten an infection by a thorn prick.'  {Mr. Ferrara's] insurer . . . rejected [the little prick]'s claim. 

A spokesman for Winn-Dixie did not comment."
Stupid plaintiff lawsuits like this do incredible damage to the reputation of injury attorneys.  This claim could have been written or pursued in such a way that scorn did not come down on the plaintiff. 

Police Brutality

Yesterday, at Scott Greefield's Simple Justice blawg, Scott featured the astounding assault on a handicapped man by two DC police officers.  The characterization of the assault by the DC police was a classic in the use of euphemism.  Since I'm not going to plagiarize Scott go to the link.  But let me give you this story from WSAV-TV Savannah, Ga.

Why do we tolerate this in our police?  I figure it's the same reason that Maricopa County tolerates Sheriff Joe Arpaio and OurTown tolerates, Jimmy Shoot'em.  We suffer the delusion that these violent/tough cops keep us safe.  Think again.

Clermont County Prosecutor's Defamation Defense Costing Ohio Taxpayers Some Big Bucks

Clermont County's (Ohio) longtime prosecutor's defamation lawsuit defense is costing the taxpayers substantial dollars.  The following is an excerpt from Barrett Brunsman's report for the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"Taxpayers might have to cover at least $100,000 in legal fees in a defamation lawsuit filed by Clermont County Commissioner Archie Wilson against Prosecutor Don White.  'The county's money would be better spent on other things,' White said.  The prosecutor expects the county's insurance company to pay for his defense, but a $100,000 deductible would be the responsibility of taxpayers, White said.

Assistant prosecutors usually defend the county against lawsuits, but that would be [in]appropriate in this case[.]  An outside lawyer would be needed because some of the prosecutors who work for White could be called as witnesses [ . . .]

The suit seeks more than $25,000 in compensatory damages [ed. Ohio, like many states avoids outlandish demands for millions of dollars by capping the amount asked for in lawsuits at "in excess of $25,000] and unspecified punitive damages [. . . ] to be determined by a jury trial.The suit suggested that [the plaintiff, Mr. Wilson]  was defamed when the prosecutor circulated the affidavits of people who claimed to have witnessed Wilson make defamatory comments at an Aug. 2 meeting of the Union Township Republican Party.  White said he investigated after hearing that Wilson allegedly said the prosecutor was corrupt. 'He accused me of committing a crime - covering up a murder,' White said. 'It's not true.'

White looked into claims that Wilson allegedly said 2-year-old Cecilia Slaby had been murdered by her parents to cover up sexual abuse by her father. Union Township police determined the child died in 2007 after accidentally being left in a hot car by her mother.

The prosecutor said he was told by witnesses that Wilson suggested the parents weren't charged because White is a friend of R. Scott Croswell III, a lawyer who represented the girl's mother during a police investigation. Croswell was Wilson's opponent in the November election.

The suit against White also suggested the prosecutor engineered a Hamilton County defamation suit filed against Wilson by the parents of Cecilia, Symmes Township resident Gary Slaby and his wife, Brenda Nesselroad-Slaby.  The prosecutor called the suit field against him by Wilson frivolous and said he expects it to be dismissed."
According to Prosecutor White's website, prior to becoming the Clermont County Prosecutor he was a loader for United Parcel Service.   It never ceases to amaze me how these sorts of disputes blow up and it's the taxpayers who pay and pay. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Aaron Biber Update--He Owes $15 Million to Raped Teen Male

In addition to the 18 years in the penitentiary Aaron Biber got for repeatedly raping his 15-year old neighbor, the Minneapolis's Star Tribune is reporting that a Hennepin County judge has ordered Biber to pay $15 million ($5 million compensatory, $10 million punitive) to the young teen male. 

As followers of this blawg know, Biber is the Minneapolis Big Law/Super Lawyer who at the time of his arrest for raping his teenage neighbor was president-elect of the state bar association. 

Maricopa County Is the Laughing-Stock--Another Sheriff Joe Shocker

There's so much that can be said (and the Bad Lawyer Blawg has said it) about the disasters, frauds and follies perpetrated on the taxpayers of Maricopa County by "America's Toughest Sheriff" Joe Arpaio and his thuggish troops, lawyers and apologists.  Every week, new revelations of misfeasance and malfeasance trickle out of Maricopa County via the Arizona Republic or Phoenix New Times.  This week alone, the Bad Lawyer planned a post on the failed persecu....prosecution by Arpaio of one of Arpaio's political enemies, County Superviosr Don Stapley.

I always believed that Maricopa County taxpayers put up with Joe and his cronies criminality (racism, misappropriation of millions of dollars, Stalinesque-law enforcement) because the taxpayers believed, mistakenly as it turns out, that Sheriff Joe was protecting them from the invasion of them wet backs.  The feds won't enforce the immigration laws, well by-God, Sheriff Joe will!  Now as it turns out, Arpaio was failing in even that task. 

Here's the link to this morning's AZCentral story account of the arrests among the Sheriff's own staff for smuggling "illegals." Sheriff Arpaio can't even supervise his own people.  Congratulations, Maricopa County, you deserve Sheriff Joe.

San Diego Foreclosure Lawyer Jailed

Pines in shackles

The ABAJournal reported, yesterday, via the San Diego Union Tribune website the story of the real estate lawyer who is charged with felony stalking following his disciplinary suspension for advising foreclosure clients to break and enter their former residences.  Here is reporter Lily Leung's story from SignOnSanDiego (the Union Tribune's website:) 

"A North County attorney whose [law] license was suspended in April for telling clients to break into their foreclosed homes and retake possession of them was arraigned Tuesday on several felony and misdemeanor charges related to stalking, filing false crime reports and practicing law with a suspended license, authorities said.

The District Attorney’s office, in a San Diego Superior Court case, filed the charges against Michael T. Pines in the Vista courthouse. Pines, who has made national headlines for his unconventional tactics, is being held on a $227,000 bail. He has decided to represent himself in court.

Prosecutors charge that the 59-year-old for roughly two months had been advising an evicted family to retake possession of their home, and during that process, stalked and harassed the current occupants — Phillip Ladman and his family — as well as Ladman’s business partner, Ronald Bamberger.

The District Attorney’s Office has filed a total of eight counts against Pines.   Of those, four are related to felony stalking in the Ladman-Bamberger incidents. Two of those stalking charges allege Pines violated a temporary restraining order, which was granted Feb. 23.

James Romo, the prosecutor assigned to the case, said the complaint against Pines lists one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting a crime to a 911 operator on Feb. 24 when he said the Ladman residence was being burglarized.   The remaining charges include: placing a 911 call for purposes of harassment, falsely reporting a crime to a police officer and continuing to practice law despite a suspended license.

Pines’ [law] license [is] 'involuntarily inactive' pending a hearing, after a State Bar Court hearing in late April.  State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn, in his ruling, said: 'Legal decisions are to be made by the courts, not the litigant. (Pines’) unwillingness or inability to obey court orders and follow the law of this state has tarnished the reputation of other attorneys and the legal community as a whole.'"
It's always interesting to see a lawyer sitting in the dock, especially as with this case, the lawyer still thinks he is the best qualified person to represent him in court.  As I've said many times--fool for a lawyer, fool for a client.

Stabby Former Tempe, AZ Attorney Off to Prison

A report at AZCentral.com relates the disposition of the manslaughter conviction of former Tempe Prosecutor Daniel Gukieson (mugshot:)

[F]ormer Tempe attorney [Daniel Gukeisen] was sentenced Monday to five years in prison in the fatal 2009 stabbing of a 22-year-old college student, according to Maricopa County Superior Court spokesman Vincent Funari.

Judge Cari Harrison sentenced Daniel Gukeisen, 39, to prison for non-dangerous manslaughter.

Gukeisen was found guilty in April for stabbing Arizona State University student Garret Hohn after an argument broke out between the two in front of Gukeisen's Tempe townhouse in September 2009.

Hohn and a friend were walking on First Street in Tempe about 2 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2009. Gukeisen, who had been a prosecutor in South Dakota but had a bankruptcy-law practice in Tempe, confronted the two for making noise. When the quarrel escalated, Gukeisen came out onto the street, and the two men fought. Hohn fell to the ground with a stab wound. He died at a nearby hospital 45 minutes later.

The two parties did not appear to know each other, police said[.]"
Amazing, huh?

The High Cost of 'Political" States Attorney General

Lawsuits filed over the anti-abortion former Attorney General Phil Kline's administration are costing the state of Kansas nearly three-quarter million dollars and counting.  Here is the report from yesterday's Wichita Eagle:

"Lawsuits filed against the administrations of Phill Kline while he served as attorney general and Johnson County district attorney have cost the state of Kansas $748,659 in legal fees and expenses.

The Topeka Capital Journal reported Monday that the total includes nearly $220,000 through mid-February to defend Kline's Johnson County District Attorney's administration from a lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination. Senior prosecutor Jacqie Spradling alleged that she was fired from the office in retaliation for her complaints of sexual discrimination.

The Spradling case cost the $219,172 in fees and expenses, according to records from the attorney general's office obtained by the Capital-Journal through an open records request.

Other legal fees paid by the state to defend Kline administrations include $403,528 in an ongoing ethics case before the Board for Discipline of Attorneys and $125,959 to defend Kline aides Eric Rucker and Stephen Maxwell in their ethics cases. [ . . . ]

A disciplinary panel heard testimony for eight days in February and March tied to Kline's handling of investigations of abortion providers in Kansas. A four-day hearing will start on July 19 on the second count, in which the disciplinary administrator's office alleges Kline misled a Johnson County grand jury investigating an abortion clinic. The ethics panel won't decide either allegation until the entire case is over.

Kline currently is a visiting professor of law at the Liberty University law school in Lynchburg, Va."
The money spent to provide a defense to Kline and his rightwing cronies is "pennies" compared to what Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas is costing Phoenix taxpayers.  But, hey, it's Kansas and they aren't used to ponying up the big bucks to pay for the antics of a "political" guy like Kline.  That's why Kansas voted Kline out of office in a landslide after one term.  At the link, Wikipedia's profile of Kline's "brilliant" career.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Felon Lawyer Pleads No Contest to Manslaughter in Deer Hunter's Slaying

Larry King (no, not that one) a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer has the story of the lawyer who killed a fellow hunter he mistook for deer,  An excerpt from King's account follows:

"Montgomery County lawyer David Manilla (pic, right) has agreed to plead guilty to firearms charges and to plead no contest to manslaughter in the Nov. 29 shooting death of fellow deer hunter Barry Groh (pic, left) near Quakertown.

Manilla, 50, of Worcester, is in the process of entering the pleas this afternoon in Bucks County Court to one misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter and two felony counts of illegally possessing firearms. If the plea is finalized and accepted by Judge Albert J. Cepparulo, a sentencing date will be set.

The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.  [ . . . ]

Manilla has acknowledged fatally shooting Groh, 52, while hunting in Richland Township. He told police he had mistaken Groh for a deer when he shot the married father of two through the heart with a high-powered rifle. Groh's survivors, who along with Manilla's family packed the courtroom this morning, are suing the lawyer for wrongful death damages in civil court. [ . . . ] The felony firearms charges were filed because Manilla was prohibited by law from having a gun. That's because he has a felony record, having been convicted of aggravated assault for clubbing a man in the head with a weightlifting bar in the 1980s.

Not only did Manilla continue to hunt for years in several states, authorities say, he kept dozens of guns at the Montgomery County home he shared with his elderly mother. Federal authorities are investigating additional firearms charges involving those guns, prosecutors have said.

Manilla also agreed to plead guilty to several hunting violations, including the illegaal use of a high-powered rifle for hunting in Bucks County. The county is one of several heavily populated areas in Pennsylvania where shotguns and muzzleloaders are allowed for deer hunting. [ . . . ]"
Get that, the LAWYER is a felon but kept doing the whole gun thing.  Great.  So how did he get a law license or keep his law license after nearly beating a guy to death with a weightlifting bar?

Apparently, Manilla who was a DUI attorney in Valley Forge, Pa also had a recent shoplifting conviction.  What a guy.

Another Perv Lawyer Busted Trying to Arrange Sex with a 14-Yr Old Boy

Last year we were all witnesses to the disaster that was the career of BigLaw and Super Lawyer Perv, Aaron Biber.   Biber ended up getting 18 years for raping a neighbor boy.  Today, the Orlando Sentinel brings us news of the Baltimore attorney and business man, Howard Scott Kalin who traveled to Florida planning to get sexy with a 14-year old boy who turned out to be an undercover cop.  Good one, Howard.

Here's the link to the Sentinel story.

By the way, Kalin owned a child entertainment company called Funhouse Entertainment which provided magicians.  Want to guess how many other victims will come forward? 

Crime to Increase? Brown v. Plata and/or the Cancelled NFL Season

While the Boys at 'Bucks this morning were debating whether bad sh*t would happen if California releases 40,000 criminals to the streets in the wake of the US Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Plata,  aka "the judicial travesty" (according to 'Nino's dissent,) Ray Lewis, he of Baltimore Ravens fame--assures us that if the football season is canceled, you can count on it!

End of story. 

Advice for CDL: Don't Smuggle Cell Phones to Your Clients

When I was at FCI, Morgantown doing my short federal bit for income taxes I expected to see some "contraband" in other words illegally imported stuff.  Stuff, we the inmates, were not allowed to have, like cigarettes, drugs, hooch, and the kind of thing you saw in the movie Stalag 17.  I did see a lot of illicit cigs but in the few months that I was in optical orange and khaki that was about it.  But the big no-no, was the cellphone.  I've been planning an extended riff on the contraband and specifically, the cellphone, but this morning the ABAJournal had a link to a news report from the DemocratandChronicle.com Rochester, New York which deals with the arrest of attorney Rudolph LePore (pic) who allegedly smuggled a cellphone to a locally-jailed client who used it to escape from jail.  As you might imagine, these allegations have landed LePore in major trouble.  The twist on this story is that LePore is a long time veteran attorney; an excerpt from reporter Gary Craig's story follows:

"After a legal career spanning more than a half-century, local criminal defense lawyer Rudolph LePore now finds himself as a criminal defendant.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office arrested LePore, 83, on Friday after a grand jury indicted him on a single felony count of promoting prison contraband. Authorities allege that he smuggled a cellphone into the Monroe County Jail — a phone used by Joseph Lee Mitchell and Eddie Palmer in their March 31 escape.

LePore may not have known the telephone would be used to aid an escape, prosecutors say.

LePore pleaded not guilty to the charge. County Court Judge John DeMarco released LePore on his own recognizance [. . .]

Last week, a Rochester woman, Lakesia Binion, pleaded guilty to helping Mitchell and Palmer escape. She admitted that she helped smuggle a telephone into the jail through a third party, an individual not identified in court or court papers.LePore is scheduled to return to court Tuesday [. . . ]

Palmer and Mitchell allegedly sawed through the bars on a second-floor jail window and jumped to freedom. They were caught in Sodus, Wayne County, on April 8 and now face federal and state escape-related charges."
I'll revisit the subject of cell phones and contraband.  Here's a link to an FBI article on the subject.  Suffice it to say that a cell phone in fed was the fastest way to get your self a visit to the HOLE/SHU and extra time.

"Well, There's Always Nancy Grace"

David Carr in the New York Times takes on television law reality programming in the wake of Fox's cancellation of America's Most Wanted.  My favorite passage:

"Every night on HLN, CNN’s supposedly softer side, Ms. Grace sprays lightning bolts in all directions — at her guests, the law, and most often, the accused. Since her show began in 2005, the presumption of innocence has found a willful enemy in the former prosecutor turned broadcast judge-and-jury."

Georgia Judge Was a Hard Working Lawyer, Maybe Too Hard Working--Update

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting Monday evening that the Gwinnett County District Attorney is investigating whether Judge Rodney Harris (pic) was exaggerating when he claimed to have been working astonishing hours for his indigent defendants.  The judge, a former private attorney who was working in the Georgia indigent public defense program was able to work these eye-popping hours, year after year billing the Georgia taxpayers over a million dollars under this indigent criminals program.  Randomly sampled bills that Judge Harris submitted while he was a private lawyer claims that on several occasions he worked 24-hour days, others 21 hours.

He's in trouble.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lance Armstrong, Drug Dealer?

Dr. Michele Ferrari
 So is Lance Armstrong a drug dealer? 

That's one of the takeaways from the Tyler Hamilton interview on 60 Minutes.  Similarly a report at the Coloradoan this morning raises the same point based on details of Hincapie's testimony before a federal grand jury.  According to an Associated Press report, Hincapie told the grand jury that he and Armstrong supplied drugs to one another.  Hamilton described receiving EPO from Armstrong after indicating a need for the drug over unregistered cell phones used for the purpose.

Hamilton's discussion of Dr. Michele Ferrari's (cycling's vampire) role in "training" Armstrong and company for that aspect of cycling performance, e.g. doping was an unexpected bombshell.  The private jet flight to Valencia, Spain for blood collection, the double phones, the bribery of UCI officials following a positive doping test at the Tour de Suisse, the entitlement attitude--it's beginning to sound just like US Professional Cycling was just another criminal enterprise. 

Bad Cops Cost Millions

The Orange County Register reports on the $4.75 million dollar payment in settlement of the claim of Elias Aladana who was nearly killed by a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff detective who while drunk crashed a red light and t-boned a Mazda drive by Mr. Aldana.  The other day I was responded to a comment by a reader who remarked that it seemed that I was surprised by the extent to which cops get special treatment in court--this case is another example of just such a pass.  As you will see Sheriff Deputy Moran (pic) plead no contest to a misdemeanor drinking and driving charge adn did not lose his job!  Amazing, keep reading fro Greg Hardesty's article:

"An Anaheim man critically injured when an on-duty Los Angeles County sheriff's detective who had been drinking slammed into his car will receive $4.75 million under terms of a settlement approved by L.A. County supervisors Tuesday.  Elias Aldana, 33 at the time of the June 29, 2008, collision, has racked up more than $2.1 million in medical expenses after suffering traumatic brain injury, internal injuries that required a splenectomy, rib fractures, pelvic fractures, a torn left shoulder and other soft tissue injuries, according to the L.A. County Counsel's Office.

Robert Andrew Moran, 42 at the time and from Buena Park, was working on an investigation and driving an unmarked Chevy Trailblazer patrol unit in Stanton when witnesses say he ran a red light and crashed into the driver's door of a Mazda sedan driven by Aldana.  At the time of the 5:25 a.m. smash-up at the intersection of Beach and Garden Grove Boulevards, Moran was found to have a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.08.

Moran disputed that he had run through the red light but in September 2009, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor driving under the influence and was sentenced to six months home confinement and put on three years of informal probation.

Moran, an 18-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department at the time of the crash, also was put on unpaid leave but now works as a patrol deputy, L.A. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Tuesday.  Whitmore said that the 'appropriate action' had been taken and that 'in every case, there are mitigating circumstances.'

Whitmore said he was not at liberty to disclose what those circumstances were in Moran's case."
In addition to the millions that Moran cost Los Angeles County, the taxpayers paid another quarter-million in attorney fees to date.

Prison Food: Federal Prison Employee Gets 6 Years in Federal Prison

A kitchen supervisor at FCI, Butner approached an inmate to arrange for importation of heroin.  Bad idea.  According to a story at the Charlotte Observer the employee will now do 6 years in federal custody.  He must of liked the food.  Here's an excerpt fro the Associated Press story:

"[Nathan Prady], an employee of the federal prison in Butner [was] sentenced to more than six years in prison on a charge of asking an inmate to help him get heroin.  [The NC] U.S. Attorney George Holding says [. . .] Nathan Prady was sentenced in Raleigh Wednesday. [ . . .]  Prosecutors say Prady was caught in a sting that is part of a wider probe at the prison and intended to smuggle the heroin inside.  Federal agents say Prady was working as a cook supervisor when he approached an inmate and asked to use the prisoner's Texas contacts to have heroin mailed to Prady's home. An undercover county officer posed as the friend and authorities taped their conversations [.]"
Prison food is vile.  Mr. Prady is now getting an opportunity to live on a steady diet of it for 6 years.  Wow, incredibly stupid.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tyler Hamilton's Lawyer on Tyler Coming Clean

The 60 Minutes interview with Tyler Hamilton was interesting. 

At the link you can read a Q & A with Tyler's attorney Chris Manderson.  The AmLaw Daily websiet uses Typepad which is a little funky--the program wants you to register but if you load it twice it will give you access to the interview without registration.

I'm interested in what you thought of the interview with Scott Pelley.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lance Armstrong Hires Karl Rove's Big Law Mouthpiece

Attorney Robert Luskin with Big Head Client
Politico is reporting that Lance Armstrong hired Karl Rove's Plamegate lawyer, Bob Luskin of Patton Boggs. Looking back over the last year,  AmLaw Daily adds the following:

The cycling star's legal team got a boost last August when it added San Diego lawyer-turned-media-spinmeister Mark Fabiani, known as the "master of disaster" for his work during the Clinton administration, to his legal team. Bryan Daly, the cochair of the white-collar defense practice at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, confirmed to The Am Law Daily on Friday that he remains a member of Armstrong's legal all-starss, along with the cycling star's longtime lawyers Sean Breen and Tim Herman from Austin's HowryBreen. As noted by Politico, the team has launched its own Web site called facts4lance.com, which seeks to rebut the allegations levied by some of Armstrong's accusers."
This is all well and good, but let's bear in mind that good legal help goes only so far as certain billionaire hedge fund operators have found out. 

Woman Sells $30 Worth of Weed Gets 12 Years!

Patricia Spottedcrow in prison waits on line
According to a story at REASON, an Oklahoma woman's "lack of remorse" over selling $30 worth of weed has netted her a 12 year prison sentence.  That's right folks, $30.XX, not $30 million, three-oh...here's the from Mike Riggs via KFOR-TV story:

"In January 2010, Dee Starr and her grown children William Lamebull and Patricia Spottedcrow were arrested in an early morning raid after selling $31 worth of marijuana to undercover police. According to Oklahoma City's KFOR-TV, it was their first felony arrests. Each was held on $100,000 bond. Each pled guilty. Here's what that got them:
William Lamebull faced the least serious charge, possession of marijuana around children.
He pleaded guilty and got two years probation, no jail time.
Dee Starr, who was facing more serious charges, two felony counts for dealing drugs and for having drugs in front of children, got 30 years probation, again no jail time.
Patricia Spottedcrow pleaded guilty to her crimes as well.
She faced the very same two felony charges as her mother, Dee Starr.
However, Spottedcrow got a 12 year prison sentence, no probation.
She was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for selling two baggies of marajuana worth about $30.
According to KFOR-TV, [Kingfisher County Associate District] Judge Susie Pritchett (pic), who retired a few months after ruining Spottedcrow's life, said the 'sentence fit the crime' because 'Ms. Spottedcrow showed no signs of remorse, nor did she seem to even care about what she was doing to her children.'  Incidentally, Judge Pritchett does not ruin every drug offender's life. She once heard the case of a police officer's wife who was caught hiding marijuana in her panties. The woman 'was asked to apologize to the judge and never served a day in jail,' a decision Pritchett defended, arguing, 'I treat drug users differently than I treated those who pushed drugs, especially when they sold in front of children.'

Mark Clayborne, Spottedcrow's attorney, did not 'challenge' his client's pre-sentence investigation report, which Spottedcrow says is rife with inaccuracies. Six months later, Clayborne was convicted of perjury in a different case. Spottedcrow now has a new attorney who will ask for a sentence modification next year. Until then
Patricia Spottedcrow's mother is now raising Patricia's four children.
They don't have the money to visit her in prison.
One-year-old Ja'zalynn doesn't recognize her mom anymore.
According to KFOR-TV, which deserves much praise for reporting this out, Oklahoma incarcerates more women than any other state in the union."
I've never been a fan of organics for any reason, not out of moral outrage or anything like that...I guess alcohol did what I needed to be done and committing even a minor crime to have some sort of "high" on weed made zero sense to me.  But come on folks, marijuana prosecutions in this day and age absent some sort of other underlying crime makes utterly no sense to me.  What a waste of limited resources, 

But this story resonates for another reason.  This is a fine example of an intemperate judge caught playing favorites to punish someone who pissed her off. 

Maybe the Governor of Oklahoma has brains enough to right an incredibly stupid judicial wrong and commute this poor kid's sentence.

More on Armstrong

Picture from VeloNews of Hincapie and Armstrong
A commentator updated my Thursday post in which I predicted that a federal indictment of Lance Armstrong is imminent.  According to the commentator, Lance's long time inner circle cycling associate, George Hincape testified before the grand jury acknowledging performance enhancing drug use ("PED")--which if true will support the claims of Tyler Hamilton and previously, Floyd Landis.

This is Neal Rogers' account from VeloNews, which as I've said repeatedly over the last couple of years, is the most invaluable resource for news for all aspects of the sport of cycling.  The report:

"George Hincapie, one of Lance Armstrong’s closest friends during their time together at the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams and the only member of all seven of Armstrong’s Tour de France-winning squads, testified before a federal grand jury that he and Armstrong had supplied one another with EPO and testosterone, CBS News reported Friday afternoon.  According to CBS News, Hincapie testified that he and Armstrong supplied each other with EPO and discussed having used testosterone to prepare for races.

Through an attorney Hincapie declined to be interviewed, citing the ongoing federal investigation led by FDA agent Jeff Novitsky.

Hincapie, reached by VeloNews Thursday, declined to comment on Hamilton’s confession and accusation. 'I know you’ve got a job and you’ve got to ask these questions. I’ve got a job too. My job is here to race my bike, promote the sport that we all love; that I’ve sacrificed my whole life for. I just have no interest in dragging this sport through the mud, so I’m sorry, but I have no comment.'
When asked whether he had a reason to disbelieve Hamilton, Hincapie, who rode with him at Postal from 1997 to 2001, said, 'I’m sorry. I’m not commenting.'

The story’s release Friday afternoon was the latest salvo in a war of the words that broke out after CBS News broadcasted an interview with former Postal teammate Tyler Hamilton Thursday night, in which Hamilton said he had witnessed Armstrong inject himself with EPO. A full report, with more from Hamilton, is scheduled for Sunday evening.  [Negotiations to obtain Armstrong's interview for the program ended with Armstrong's public relations folks accusing the 60 Minutes producers of not being "straight shooters."]

Armstrong downplayed the accusations by tweeting: '20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case.'   In a letter to Fager, two of Armstrong’s lawyers, Robert Luskin and Ted Herman, said that 60 Minutes was engaged in 'disgraceful journalism' and 'a serious breach of the most fundamental journalistic principles.'

Hamilton and former USPS [ed. United States Postal Service] teammate Floyd Landis each have an uphill battle in establishing their credibility. Each changed their stories fundamentally — from vehemently denying doping, to confessing and accusing Armstrong and others.

Hincapie, however, a three-time U.S. national road champion, has a solid reputation, is the co-owner of a successful outdoor clothing brand, and has remained friendly with Armstrong. At times Armstrong and Hincapie have referred to each other as best friends, and in an interview last year, Armstrong described Hincapie as like a brother.'  While 60 Minutes is reporting that Hincapie testified before a federal grand jury about his and  Armstrong’s use of PEDs, he declined to be interviewed by '60 Minutes,' which will air its piece on the Armstrong investigation at 7 p.m. EDT Sunday.

Several sources have told VeloNews that the show will reveal further bombshells, beyond those of Hamilton and Hincapie."
The implications of the pending fraud charges against Armstrong, et al. is that proof of fraud destroys the illusion that these astounding athletic accomplishments, 7 Tour de France victories and many other victories worldwide were legitimately and legally achieved.  The whole Livestrong Charitable foundation with its ubiquitous yellow rubber bracelets, the inspiring comeback from cancer all of that will appear to be rot.  Hundreds of millions of dollars were amassed by Armstrong and his associates based on the representation that they rode these races clean.  If Armstrong was lying he and his friends obtained these millions fraudulently.  The sheer scale of the wrongdoing is such that under the federal sentencing guidelines Lance is looking at decades in federal prison.

For years, Lance skated despite rumors because it seemed unlikely that so many people (other cyclists, team managers, and others)who would have had known could have remained silent about performance enhancing drugs.  But truth be told they weren't silent.  When someone spoke up they were ostracized and ridiculed.  Since other cyclist were involved, their testimony was immediately suspect.  And since Lance never "tested positive" it was always claimed that he was riding clean.  The thing is, cyclists cheat and manipulate their test results, and then again there were various claims of positive tests, and bribery, and manipulated controls.  One of the most ludicrous moments in all of this was when Floyd Landis was caught trying to hack the computers at a testing lab in an apparent effort to manipulate a positive test result.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

6 Texas Adults Convicted in Sex Crimes Against Children--Freed

The Houston Chronicle reports that 6 of the 7 adults convicted in the Texas small town "swingers club" that involved sex crimes against children as young as 5 have been released after plea deals were struck following successful appeals of convictions in the case.  Here is an excerpt from reporter Terry Wallace's mind-blowing story:

"Texas prosecutors on Thursday abruptly ended a three-year criminal investigation into what they called a sordid small-town swinger's club where children as young as 5 were forced into performing sex. Six of the seven adults charged in the case were about to be freed on time served.  The three men and three women pleaded guilty to charges of injury to a child. But it was an unexpected end after Smith County prosecutors vowed last year to retry two defendants whose appeals were held up by a three-judge panel, which called the court record in one of the convictions 'rife with error.'

On Thursday, State District Judge Jack Skeen sentenced the six after they pleaded guilty to third-degree felony injury to a child and waived their rights to trial and appeal. District Attorney Matt Bingham said they would be released as soon as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice completes their processing.

Patrick 'Booger Red' Kelly (pic), Shauntel Mayo and Jamie Pittman had previously been sentenced to life in prison - Kelly for aggravated sexual assault of a child, Mayo and Pittman for organized criminal activity. Pittman and Kelly had their convictions overturned on appeal; Mayo's sentence was modified, but the conviction was upheld. Only Dennis Pittman, who is appealing his life sentence, did not reach a deal.

Bingham said he still believes strongly that all the defendants deserve life in prison, but he offered the plea bargain for the sake of the children who were victimized.

'This is just real simple,' he said. 'These kids have gone into a court of law four times. They have testified to these horrific acts, endured the trauma of having to testify, and I'm not willing to put them through this again.' He said the children, who now range in age from 10 to 13, have had this 'hanging over their heads' since 2004 with indictments three years later. The children could potentially have testified as many as seven more times in additional trials, he said.  'Whatever time they have to be a child they need to have it,'  Bingham said.

He stressed that he was not hiding from anything. Even the cases that were reversed were done so only 'on procedural matters,' Bingham said. 'The evidence was clearly sufficient to establish their guilt.'

That was why the six people were willing to acknowledge their guilt Thursday, which came as a relief to the children's foster parents, he said.  However, defense attorney Tina Brumbelow still insisted that all were really innocent.  'If you've kept somebody locked up for five years, of course they'll plea to something that's not true just to get off,' said Brumbelow, who represented Kelly in the initial trial. 'I think that they tried to convict an innocent man and several innocent people.'

Another of Kelly's attorneys, Greg Waldron of Longview, said his client is ready to get on with his life after being behind bars for nearly four years.  The plea deal was 'one of those bargains that's hard not to take,'  considering the more serious charges Kelly was facing, Waldron said. [ . . . ]"
So what do you think? 

According to prosecutors during the original trial, Kelly and his adult co-defendants forced the children into performing sex acts with one another while the adults watched.  The problem was that the outrage of all involved was so overwhelming it tainted the convictions so thoroughly that no appellate court could uphold the convictions.  A Google search of Kelly's name turns up a great deal of material some of it too sickening to post here. 

Intemperate Lawyer, or Just Zealously Representing His Client?

The Boston Globe (with a hat tip to the ABAJournal) reports on the jailing of a CDL (criminal defense lawyer) who was slightly intemperate during a jury empanelment.  Here's the story:

"The fiery attorney who represented former Boston city councilor Chuck Turner in his bribery trial is now headed to jail himself, [Barry P. Wilson (pic) was] sentenced yesterday to three months behind bars after drawing the ire of a judge during jury selection for a murder trial earlier this month.

'Mr. Wilson, your behavior before me two weeks ago was atrocious,’ said Suffolk Superior Court Judge Patrick F. Brady to Barry P. Wilson. He called Wilson’s conduct 'the worst I’ve seen in 20 years on the bench.’  Wilson, a criminal defense attorney who has practiced law for almost 36 years, recently shaved his trademark scraggly gray beard, but he replied to the judge in his well-known booming voice and effusive manner.

'I don’t think my conduct was egregious or out of line in terms of what occurred in court,’ [Wilson] said.

[ . . .]Wilson also represented Garrett Jackson, who was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for killing a rival drug dealer. During the jury selection phase, Wilson lashed out at the court’s decision to seat a man with a law enforcement background, after dismissing a woman who told the court that her two sons had criminal records.

'How can I look at my client and say he should think this is legitimate after you make a ruling like that and you excuse a woman who had two children. . .’' Wilson told Brady during the May 5 empanelment.

'No way I’m gonna try a case with that man,’' he said referring to the former Department of Homeland Security employee Brady chose to sit on the jury. 'That’s ridiculous. Fifteen years as a federal agent and he’s gonna be unbiased? Are you kidding me? I can’t do it, I won’t do it.  And the other thing is I think maybe if he’s standing outside there you better go ask him if he heard me screaming because I think you gotta excuse him now cause I think he knows I don’t like him,’  Wilson said, according to a typed transcript provided by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

Brady replied, 'Mr. Wilson, is there some reason why I should not hold you in contempt?’"
As you might imagine, a number of local Boston CDL came to Barry Wilson's defense. 

I've seen this sort of thing a number of times over the years, and in one instance was the object of a Judge who wildly accused me of similar conduct, although the transcript did not reflect any disrespectful behavior and contempt was not sustained.  I suspect that Mr. Wilson's reputation for this sort of thing played against him.  Of course the defense is always:  I was zealously representing my client.  This used to play, unfortunately the rules of ethics have been moving away from this fig leaf for intemperate behavior and language. 

But good for Barry Wilson.  Pay the price and get back to work. 

Drunk Lawyers in the News--Sleeping In Court Is No Way to Build a Practice

Scott Margherio is out of jail and on his way to some serious disciplinary problems with the Illinois Bar if not outright loss of license.  Margherio, according to a Complaint by the Illinois disciplinary authorities showed up for court blitzed and after lying to the judge about his state of inebriation, ended up in jail.  What follows is from the complaint (via the Legal Profession blawg):

"At approximately 9:00 a.m., on [Friday] October 1, 2010, [attorney Margherio] appeared in the circuit court of Hardin County, Illinois, with the intention of entering his appearance for a defendant in a criminal case.   [ . . . ] When [Mr. Margherio] entered the courtroom, he smelled of alcohol. While waiting for the defendant’s case to be called, Respondent slept at counsel table and then staggered when called to the bench by the presiding judge, the Honorable Paul Lamar.

[ . . . ] Judge Lamar questioned [Mr. Margherio]  about his alcohol use and Respondent denied using alcohol that morning. Respondent agreed to submit to a Breath Alcohol Content ("BAC") test, which showed a breath alcohol content of .06.

[ . . . ] Judge Lamar subsequently held a contempt hearing and found Respondent in direct criminal contempt. The judge sentenced Respondent to be held in the Hardin County jail until Monday, October 4, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. The judge subsequently modified the contempt order to allow Respondent to be released on Sunday, October 3, 2010, at 4:00 p.m."
The ethics complaint against Margherio (at the link his website) also alleges that he lied on his Application to take the Illinois Bar Exam by failing to disclose a DUI conviction.  If sustained this latter "count" will probably cost Margherio his law license under the character and fitness requirements of the the state.  Although in OurCounty there is a sitting judge and former flame-throwing prosecutor who long ago was revealed to have done precisely the same thing.  Different era, I guess.

Sir, You Are a Really Bad Man, Go to Jail for 1 Day and Don't Do It Again!

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting on the 1 day jail sentence meted out by U.S. District Court, Senior Judge Peter C. Economus.  Economus ordered Ryan K. Blankenship to serve 1 day followed by 5 years of probation for defrauding lenders who provided loans for central Ohio properties in 2006 and 2007.  This unusual sentence was recommended by the AUSA and reflected Blankenship's cooperation in the investigation of the fraud he helped perpetrate.  Nice deal. 

An excerpt from Kathy Lynn Gray's story for the Dispatch follows:

"Cheating on loan applications and lining his pockets with kickbacks sent a former Gahanna mortgage broker to federal prison today, but just for a day.  During a hearing in U.S. District Court, Senior Judge Peter C. Economus ordered Ryan K. Blankenship, 43, to spend a single day behind bars for defrauding lenders who were providing loans for central Ohio properties in 2006 and 2007. [Judge] Economus also ordered [Mr. Blankenship] to pay $617,869 in restitution and be on probation for five years.

Blankenship pleaded guilty in June to bank fraud and money laundering.

Economus issued his sentence at the recommendation of Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda S. Shoemaker, who said Blankenship had not organized the loan scheme and provided significant information about others involved.  [ . . . ]

Investigators from the IRS, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department, and Columbus police had combed through records at Blankenship's Household Mortgage Solutions in Gahanna after uncovering the scheme. [ . . . ]

Court records show that the fraudulent loans totaled $1.5 million for the properties and a loss of $617,869 to the lenders. Blankenship collected $87,881 in payments and kickbacks, the records show.
Blankenship has left the mortgage business and now owns a fitness center, court records show."
I knew a number of guys at FCI, Morgantown who would have benefited from this sort of sentencing.  It's practical, wise, and consistent with what I've come to believe sentencing in certain white collar financial crimes should be about.